Hillsboro Mayor Drew Hastings says that naming a new safety and service director and a permanent police chief will happen eventually, but he’s in no hurry.
Hastings said Friday that, so far, the vacancy in the safety-service director’s office has resulted in minimal issues.
“We’ve had no fires to put out,” said Hastings. “The only downside has been a little more work in the administration picking up the slack. Between us and the interim SSD we have, everything is working fine.”
Hastings credited city workers for fulfilling their duties and going about business as usual. He praised Shawn Adkins, the public works lead, for “really helping to fulfill some of the duties our SSD was doing.”
On Nov. 22, about two weeks after Hastings was acquitted by a jury in a criminal trial, he fired Todd Wilkin from his position as safety and service director, a move that at first resulted in city Law Director Fred Beery ordering Wilkin to continue being paid against the mayor’s wishes, until Beery rescinded that directive on Jan. 18, citing an outside attorney’s advice.
Wilkin’s attorneys have notified the city that he is appealing his dismissal through a grievance procedure outlined in the city’s policies and procedures manual.
Hastings has entered into a short-term agreement with Stantec Engineering for Stantec’s Gary Silcott to coordinate infrastructure projects until a new safety and service director is hired.
Stantec, which has been involved with a number of Hillsboro projects, provides various infrastructure services and consultation on a regular basis, and in some communities which do not employ full-time service directors the company fills that role.
According to company information, Silcott “has over 17 years of hands-on experience in the fields of engineering and design, having worked in both the private and public sectors of engineering consulting. He is experienced in water and wastewater system projects, design of road improvements, storm water management, and site design for private sector developments.”
But while he has not rushed to fill the SSD post, Hastings said he is working on a job posting for the position.
“But being without that position for about 60 days, we’re finding that with our next choice we can be more flexible and we may be able to use some existing personnel who are responsible for some overlap in duties, and save some money on the position,” said Hastings. Wilkin was hired in 2013 at an annual salary of $74,000.
Likewise, the mayor said he is moving cautiously on filling the police chief position vacated by the resignation in December of Todd Whited.
“We’re taking our time,” said Hastings. “We have not been put in a position to have to rush fulfilling it.” He said Sgt. Steve Browder, who he appointed to step into the chief’s role temporarily, “seems to be doing a fine job as acting chief.”
The FOP agreement with the city deals with procedures to appoint a permanent chief, although there appears to be no precise time frame involved. Law director Beery said Friday that if someone serves as acting chief for two years, he or she is then considered to be the permanent chief.